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As electric cars become more and more prominent on roads around the world, it is only logical that the demand for home charging stations is reaching a new peak, with companies scrambling to meet it. Already there are several options with a wide array of benefits that give consumers a choice, but the question becomes how does one find the best charging station for them and their particular situation? Fortunately, it's fairly easy to compare several of the top brands. Converting Your Car The first thing to keep in mind is that it's actually very easy to convert a car from using petrol to employing electric power, and there are quite a few reasons to make this change. For one, it costs a lot less to run an electric vehicle. For a handful of change you can travel as far as a full tank of gas would otherwise bring you. According to a study conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists “Based on electricity rates in 50 cities across the United States, the analysis found drivers can save $750 to $1,200 dollars a year compared to operating an average new compact gasoline vehicle (27 mpg) fueled with gasoline at $3.50 per gallon. Higher gas prices would mean even greater EV fuel cost savings. For each 50 cent increase in gas prices, an EV driver can expect save an extra $200 a year.” Those who live in energy deregulated markets (read more about those here) can pair this with an energy provider who uses green energy to pack a double punch against their carbon footprint. Luckily for car owners who want to make the changeover but are wearing of the price tag of electric cars the actual conversion of a gas powered car to one that runs off electricity can be done for much less than the cost of a new electric car and it will produce zero emissions when it's finished. Making this change is therefore not only good for your budget (in both the short and long runs), but also the environment. Leviton Evr-green Leviton has gone to great lengths to start thinking ahead. That's why the new Evr-green system is not only designed for both Level I and Level II users, but it also includes a pre-wire system that can be installed in a home in order to make the transition to an electric car easier. The system starts at around $200 but does not including installation, which is best left to the professionals. That being said, it's a bit pricey at $1,129.54 and doesn't include DC fast charge, making it one of the slower units available on the market today. AeroVironment What stands out about AeroVironment is largely their commercial operations, offering both Level II and DC fast charge units, but its residential operations just got a big boost in the arm by securing the exclusive contract to be the installed station for Nissan LEAF home charging. At $899.00, it's an excellent deal. What makes this particularly useful is that AeroVironment is now forced to comply with standards of a major automobile brand, so you should see a consistent progression of improvements on the model and more cars making use of the system in order to partake in already installed units. On the other hand, the units are designed with specific cars and receptacles in mind, so if you get another car later you'll likely need another charging station to go with it. General Electric WattStation Part of what makes the GE WattStation such a great station and will be fantastic for home use is that it's the only one with WiFi smart grid technology built into it, so it's easy to connect to when you require remote access and help finding additional charging stations when you need them on the road (you can even check out a map of stations on their site). Add to that the GE name, which has built its reputation over quite some time, and you have a charging station you can count on. That being said, it is by far the most expensive at $2,999.00. What's worse is that is for a station that only does Level II charging. It is clear that you are very much paying for the GE name with this charger. Clipper Creek Despite being around for decades, Clipper Creek isn't well known in the charging station industry. They're very much a quiet competitor, largely because they haven't put much effort into the design of their stations. Moreover, they only do Level II charging. That being said, they are the install of choice for the Tesla Roadster and despite just being gray boxes, are highly reliable charging stations. These will last as long as your car and probably more than that, as well as having a wide variety of voltage and amperage settings to choose from. The price for a Clipper Creek station runs anywhere from $379 to $899, making them also the least expensive option despite their limitations. NRG eVgo NRG eVgo is a company that is aggressively trying to establish itself as the center of home and public charging, and they're doing it by not only offering a high quality residential unit for a good price, but also offering service and maintenance at your house for when things go wrong. The drawback, however, is that you only get 12 to 25 miles of travel per hour of charge, making it great for a standard Level II if you don't drive a lot, but terrible if you're looking for something that will last a while. The width of the variance also makes it uncomfortable to gauge your driving capacity. You can get a home charging NRG eVgo station for $699.00 or you can sign up for their monthly Freedom Station network for $14.99 per month plus a recharge fee. As you can see, there are quite a few options for almost everyone’s budget if you’re considering converting your existing car to, or purchasing, an electric car. It’s important to note with all this technology that while the upfront costs may seem like a burden, they will pay for themselves in the long run and help you sleep better at night knowing all the good you’re doing for the planet.
Most of the American public is already familiar, if only in passing, with drones and their general capabilities. We know that they’re primarily used for military purposes, whether it be surveillance or combat, and that they can be controlled remotely. However, new uses are constantly cropping up for drones in commercial settings, which is leaving many Americans slightly uneasy about their presence – an uneasiness which comes from a lack of information on the positive work drones can do. Granted, as with anything, there are better and worse sides to drones. But in some cases, the good might entirely outweigh the bad. Some of the biggest supporters of drone use are delivery services. Maybe you’ve seen the video of Amazon’s purposed drone delivery service. It would make their delivery services much quicker, efficient, and in the long run, save money and valuable resources by reducing the number of heavy, fuel-eating trucks on the road. Joining Amazon in looking into drone delivery is UPS, the world’s largest parcel service. Both companies have more than enough funds to invest in research, so it’s possible that delivery drones will be closer to reality every day. In a rather comical bid to join UPS and Amazon in the drone delivery arena, Domino’s has been supposedly testing their “DomiCopter” drone, which is a drone that would be used to deliver pizza. It’s a godsend for delivery addicts everywhere, and thinking about the number of delivery cars (who only deliver a few pizzas each round) off the road is intriguing, but Domino’s full investment doesn’t seem as likely as an Amazon or UPS drone. It isn’t all about commercial, money making drones either. There are a number of philanthropic companies looking to use drones to better our planet as well. A company on the forefront of this is Conservation Drones, who not only were able to develop a drone for only $2,000, but were also able to show its ability to survey and collect conservation data of rain forests and other wildlife habitats without disturbing them. The company caught the attention of the Mongabay corporation, whose financial support allowed them to become an official non-profit. What this means is that Conservation Drones will be able to channel even more funds into creating inexpensive drones to help protect and conserve the planet's increasingly threatened wildlife habitats. Joining them is Matternet, whose purpose is to use drones to deliver medical supplies to impoverished areas, but to also create a “physical internet” infrastructure in rural and remote areas whose only somewhat viable option today is satellite internet. Their end goal is to connect those in remote areas with the rest of the world, thus increasing their education and knowledge, and hopefully enabling them to better improve both their lives and the lives of others around them. In addition to philanthropic efforts, drones are becoming a tool used in response to emergency situations. Germany company Height-Tech has teamed with defibrillator manufacturer Schiller to create a system where defibrillators would be delivered via drone to heart attack victims when prompted by a smartphone app. The drones could fly a distance of 200 km according to Height-Tech’s website, making their use fairly localized at the moment (for now). Closer to home, drones are being used to track weather, wildfires, and other potential natural disasters. Recently, NASA teamed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Northrop Group to develop and create drones which would be used to track and monitor hurricanes. These drones would be able to reach higher altitudes than the hurricane itself, thus giving an overview of the storm that previously has been mostly unavailable. In addition to that effort, the use of drones in tracking and fighting wildfires is becoming an increasingly viable option. Since wildfires are notorious for rapidly and unexpectedly changing direction, a drone would be able to give live updates to fire officials and the public, whose lives (and the lives of the wildlife involved) may be saved by this real-time knowledge. Right now, firefighters tackling these wildfires have had to update the location of the fire themselves through tablets and smartphones. However, in more remote areas, where they have no internet or cellular connection, they’re out of luck and must rely solely on instinct and (likely) old information they've received. When it comes to drones, there are equally viable arguments both for and against their use. None of these arguments are going to be solved overnight, though generally, once a technology hits the market, it’s difficult to reverse its forward progress. It’s simply going to take time in order to see when and where drone usage will become regular, where it shouldn’t be used, and what changes need to be made for an increasingly drone friendly world. According to the Federal Aviation Agency, there is likely to be a staggering 7,500 commercial drones in the air by 2018, some of which can hopefully be put to good use.